Slots have always looked simple but they offer tons of room for customisation, depending on what the theme of the game is. While some aspects stay the same, like the rolling reels and random allocation of the symbols, they can still be brilliantly versatile. The intriguing part though is how the theme of one machine can influence other slots, based on how well they work!
It all started with the very first slot machines back in the 1880s. There were two designs initally, the first by Sittman and Pitt. That had 5 reels and 50 cards on offer. The idea of the machine was to simulate the experience of playing poker. The machine dealt the player a hand with a reward that was usually not money but an offer from the casino.
It was Charles Fey who produced the precursor to the modern slot machine with 3 reels and a cash pay-out depending on the result. This introduced the Liberty Bell, still a common feature even though the playing card motif is now much less common.
Development Of Slots
The next big revelation in theme was the use of fruit symbols. That is something most people will still be familiar with today. Originally used as a way to win flavoured chewing gym and skirt around America’s anti-gambling laws of the time, the fruit machine is still incredibly popular and a bulk of slot machines still use the theme.
Like the Liberty Bell, cherries are still widely used in slot machines and this is even where the BAR symbol came from (a popular gum manufacturer in the US at the time.) This type of design is still popular today. It’s probably not well known that it was originally a themed take on the concept. It’s a great example of how a strong theme has had a massive impact on a machine’s popularity.
But it wasn’t until the advent of fully electronic video slots that slot machines started really playing around with the idea of having a unique theme to the machines.
Modern Day Slots
So many of today’s slots are absolutely packed with features. Games with huge progressive bonuses and tonnes of extra features are commonplace on most casino sites. Whether you prefer the cute animation on games like Piggy Riches, or the dark and mysterious like The Dark Knight, the range is quite astounding.
And they all have the invention of games like Wheel of Fortune, back in 1996, to thank. That slot machine added an extra layer with a ‘spin the wheel’ moment inspired by the show. That helped make the machine stand out from the standard slot machine designs of the time.
It’s likely Wheel of Fortune’s success had a pretty huge impact on how slot machines approached taking a theme.
If you go to an online casino nowadays you’ll find a huge selection of slot machines based on TV, movies and books. All offer a little more than some different symbols to line up for a win. Taking inspiration from popular media is a great way to help spice up a familiar game and are massively popular in both land and online casinos.
One thing that’s pretty clear though, as long as you pick the right theme, it definitely works to make a game more popular!